QPOP Music Festival: Day Two Review

Summary of the second day of QPOP performances

Will Hunter Band performing at The Underground.
Will Hunter Band performing at The Underground.
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Zeus’ lead singer in action at The Grad Club.
Zeus’ lead singer in action at The Grad Club.
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The Stringers playing at Clark Hall Pub.
The Stringers playing at Clark Hall Pub.
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July Talk's lead singer performing for a lively crowd at The Underground.
July Talk's lead singer performing for a lively crowd at The Underground.
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THE UNDERGROUND

Late Saturday evening, students trickled into The Underground for the night's QPOP performances. Will Hunter Band, The Darcys and July Talk were all on the lineup, and the excitement at the venue was palpable.

As Will Hunter Band began playing their indie rock tunes, a small crowd gathered around the stage. By the time they played their catchy song "What We Used to Say" off their EP Last Summer, the students started to get more into the performance.

Their cover of the popular song "Sweater Weather" by The Neighborhood and their own song "Never Again" were clearly crowd favourites, and by 9 p.m. the party was in full swing.

After their hour-long set, Will Hunter Band had students fully pumped and ready for the next two bands.

Hunter complimented the venue and the crowd once they had finished their set.

“A lot of the shows we played this summer were outside, and this is kind of more our scene where we get to be loud and more ‘punky’ and jump around,” he said.

“Nothing compares to a sweaty club where you can actually jump."

Starting at 10 p.m., The Darcys were the next band to perform. The ever-growing crowd excitedly danced to the alt-rock band's experimental, progressive tunes.

Throughout their hour-long set, The Darcys kept the crowd interested. While their sound would only allow for a very specific music taste to appreciate, their upbeat performance made it so that anyone could enjoy their music.

Finally, the most eagerly anticipated band of the night, July Talk, came to the stage. The intensity of the lead singer Peter Dreimanis was apparent immediately, both in his deep, growling vocals and in his eccentric performance style.

This, coupled with the soft, almost sweet, vocals of Leah Fay made for the perfect indie-rock performance.

Throughout the performance Dreimanis reiterated how happy they were to be there. At one point, he said performing at QPOP felt like "finally coming home" after mostly touring in Europe the past year.

July Talk's high-energy performance left little to be desired. Students were clearly enjoying themselves as they danced and cheered for the entire hour while Dreimanis and Fay worked the crowd.

The band ended their set with one of their most popular songs, "Paper Girl", before coming back for an encore, and thus ending the night of performances at The Underground.

—Mishal Omar

THE GRAD CLUB

The fact that the Grad Club was at full capacity for most of Saturday night is indicative of the popularity of headlining bands Lost Cousins and Zeus.

The Grad Club, which housed over 100 people past 11 p.m., had a vibrant atmosphere. The doors opened at 9 p.m., and people started flooding in from other venues soon after to experience the intense tunes of Lost Cousins, who opened the show.

The club was overly crowded and the stage set-up wasn’t ideal — it was only facing one side of the room, making it more difficult for surrounding audience members to see — but the environment was dynamic and exciting.

Lost Cousins, a Kingston-based band well-known around campus, opened for a responsive crowd of students and other festival-goers.

The indie-rock band consists of Dylan Cantlon Hay on bass guitar, Cameron Duffin on guitar, Murray Spencer on guitar, Thomas Dashney on keyboards and Lloyd McArton as guitarist and saxophonist. Each member contributes vocally.

The band drew in the crowd with well-executed songs like “People Talk” that put a spin on their indie sound with the implementation of jazz instrumentals from McArton.

During the set, the band commented on how surreal it felt to be opening for one of their musical inspirations, Zeus.

Lost Cousins ended their set on a bright note, leaving the crowd satisfied with the band’s tunes and ready for Zeus, who went on stage shortly after.

Zeus, hailing from Barrie, Ont., were well-known among the crowd and their popularity was immediately evident. As soon as they began playing their classic-rock hits, like “Miss My Friends” and “Straight Through the Light”, the audience danced with excitement.

The band formed in 2009 and consists of members Mike O'Brien, Carlin Nicholson, Rob Drake and Neil Quin. Over the years, they’ve had ample experience with performing in all types of venues. Their familiarity with playing in front of crowds was evident in their effortless vocals, intriguing drumming patterns and mellow guitar solos.

The Grad Club was playful and lively with the presence of experienced bands that knew how to interact with the crowd, but not take away from the most important part of the festival — the music.

Despite slight stage-viewing issues, the Grad Club did a phenomenal job of establishing a lively atmosphere that was amplified by the superb music of Lost Cousins and Zeus.

—Kashmala Omar

COMMON GROUND

Tucked away indoors on a cold rainy evening, students and alumni settled into Common Ground (CoGro) for the first QPOP festival.

On Saturday, four local acts filled the vaulted ceilings of the student-run coffee shop with a blend of folk, a cappella, 90s alternative rock, blues and pop rock. It was an evening of bright surprises.

The evening opened with Kodie Rollan, a Kingston-based artist with a penchant for old school Motown, folk, and top 40s.

Rollan played a mix of covers as well as several of his own songs off of his new EP – Kept in Storage. Being a regular at CoGro, Rollan felt more than comfortable performing in front of a smaller gathering.

“I love performing at CoGro. [CoGro] has a special place in my heart,” Rollan said. His passion was evident in his performance.

Following Rollan, current Queen’s grad students John Rose and Matt Ventresca took the stage. Their musical interests are diverse, drawing from blues, jazz, punk, country, 90’s alternative rock and acoustic folk.

Their varied musical interests created a compelling set dynamic. At times it felt slightly disjointed, but also intellectually endearing. Ventresca commented on the unique set of music they put out for the crowd.

“We think so much about where our musical tastes are coming from and how each song comes together based on genre,” he said. “We jump around and bring the audiences into our minds.” Their blues homage to B.B. King’s “The Thrill is Gone” was an inspiring window into their fondness for electric blues. Ventresca’s electrifying guitar solo was like a jolt of espresso for the sleepy coffee shop vibe.

The duo praised the concept of QPOP and its ability to bring attention to student talent.

“The concept of QPOP brings more attention to the thriving music scene at Queen’s and legitimizes the fact that there is talent happening on campus,” Rose said. “You don’t have to travel to find great music.”

Around the 9 p.m. mark, Devan and Khalid started their set. Devan Glover and Khalid Yassein are two Queen’s students with an acoustic folk sound.

The ethereal combination of their voices fit well into the coffee shop environment. They covered artists such as Paolo Nutini and The Head and the Heart, as well as performing songs off their new EP This Town.

While the musicians were undoubtedly talented, the venue left more to be desired. Matthew Barber, the headliner for this venue, lamented the bright lighting.

“It’s not my ideal setting with the lighting,” he said. “It’s usually nicer to be able to create a bit of a mood.”

Some of the other artists, such as Rollan, Ventresca and Rose, echoed Barber’s sentiment — blinding lights weren’t the best choice for an intimate musical evening in a coffee shop. Barber, the evening’s final act, is a prominent Canadian Indie pop artist who made the journey from Toronto to Kingston to be at QPOP. Barber’s adaptability and seasoned professionalism was a delight in the intimate coffee shop venue.

Barber bantered with the crowd through reminiscing about Queen’s, creating a nostalgic and sentimental experience. His full sound reverberated throughout CoGro, drawing those who had been studying in closer.

Playing a host of songs, both old and new, his folk-rock roots were evident in songs like “Magnet Eyes”. His new album, Big Romance can be found, as he phrased it, “wherever fine records are sold”.

Overall, CoGro’s QPOP festival set showcased exceptional talent with ties to Queen’s University, allowing student acts as well as more well-known artists to come together to strengthen the local music scene.

— Kira McCutcheon

CLARK HALL PUB

Despite the unbridled talent at Clark Hall Pub on the second night of QPOP, the crowds, unfortunately, didn’t gather to the same volume they did on the first night.

The first band to take the Clark Hall stage was The Stringers, a four-piece alternative rock band hailing from Ottawa.

Having just released their debut EP See You At Seven, the band had a wide variety of material to disclose at QPOP. In their first ever out-of-town performance, the band showed no sign of nerves as they swooped in performing a 40-minute long set.

Although the audience was lacking, those festival-goers who were in attendance excitedly stood in front of the stage, dancing and swaying along to the The Stringers’ energetic sounds.

“It was nice because we had some friends from Kingston that showed up and stuff like that,” Ferrais said. “We weren’t really expecting anything but I mean there were at least 30 people there. It was very welcoming and we felt really good about it.”

With a combination of their own music as well as covers of classic punk-rock and alternative-rock bands such as The Arctic Monkeys and Blink 182, The Stringers had audience members singing and dancing along as they carried on through their set.

After their final song The Stringers had the small but mighty audience chanting “encore” to which they complied, playing a cover of Blink 182’s classic “All The Small Things”.

Immediately following The Stringers was Kingston-native indie-rock band P.S. I Love You.

Leaving not much time in between The Stringers’ last performance, P.S. I Love You managed to keep the crowd — which had grown to a strong 40 plus people — excited.

Although P.S. I Love You delivered a devoted and enigmatic performance, it seemed very heavy and long-winded. It was far less exciting and personable than the Stringers' set.

It’s unfortunate that fewer people attended The Stringers' performance, but they enjoyed their time at QPOP nonetheless.

The second day of performances at Clark was both dynamic and laidback.

The Stringers — although new to the Kingston music scene — showed a sense of ease and delivered a fun performance, and P.S. I Love You delivered a seasoned intensity that the crowd loved.

—Olivia Loncar-Bartolini

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